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St Marks Road, Easton with bunting

City Centre and High Streets

Bristol’s city centre and high streets are part of what makes the city so original. The need to unlock potential opportunities has become even more of a focus following COVID-19, as we look ahead to support recovery and renewal. Strengthening transport links and enhancing the public realm to encourage a transition from car use to safe walking, cycling and public transport is vital to both realising our sustainability goals and to creating liveable and attractive places.

  • Unlocking potential opportunities
  • Supporting recovery and renewal
  • Enhancing the public realm


Our strategic priorities for Bristol’s places are focused on enabling development to ensure:

  • provision for future homes, jobs and quality places,
  • improving connectivity and the protection of green spaces, and
  • concentrating on areas with communities experiencing long term deprivation.

At the same time, we must make sure that our strategic priorities are all achieved while tackling the climate and ecological emergencies at every step.

Useful links

One City Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy – Bristol’s Places

City Centre Framework documentation

Shop front in Bristol showing fruits and vegetables

Bristol city centre

This dynamic and diversifying area is a primary economic location in the West of England. With a high density of employment and economic activity, it is the administrative, professional, healthcare, cultural, transport and educational hub of the city. The city centre is home to around 45 per cent of Bristol’s jobs and one quarter (24.2 per cent) of all businesses.

As set out in the City Centre Framework, we have ambitions for at least 11,500 new homes across central Bristol alongside workspace, educational, leisure and cultural uses. The Framework also details the council’s ambitions for development, transport and public space improvements. In consultation with residents and businesses these plans will need to take into account a response to COVID-19 as well as a wider set of behavioural changes, which may include the demand for city centre office space, hybrid or working from home models, leisure and cultural activity and general community need.

The immediate priority for the visitor economy and city centre is to continue promoting the city as a safe destination for visitors.

Developing an effective regional offer and range of products will further amplify what makes Bristol a unique place to visit and live.

Strategic Alignments 

To ensure plans are values led, the development of the city centre  sits within wider strategic aims including the One City Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy

SDG alignments include: 5.3, 11.2, 11.3, 11.7

  • Continue with transport and public realm interventions to support social distancing measures. SDG: 3, 11.2
  • Support meanwhile uses SDG: 8.3
  • Gather, analyse and understand footfall/spend information. SDG: 11.7, 16
People at the City Centre Food Market

High streets and local centres

The traditional role of high streets and local centres as the centre of community life – vital sources of employment, services and social life – has been changing over the past two decades, due to competition and changing shopping patterns, a trend accelerated by COVID-19. However, Bristol has been bucking the downward trend, with our high streets performing well both regionally and nationally, thanks to the positive action and investment we’ve given our high streets’ transport and public spaces.

We’ve spread the word about Bristol’s unique image and offer in our strategic communications, promotion of our high streets and business engagement. Through the Port Communities Resilience Thriving High Street Funding we’ve invested £135,000 in public realm improvements around Avonmouth, and we are sharing WECA’s £1.5 million High Street Renewal Fund for the sub region.

Bristol has also secured a £4.725 million funding boost to help spearhead the regeneration and recovery of the city centre and 47 high streets throughout Bristol. £2.725 million has come from the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets Fund which and £2 million awarded from the council’s COVID-19 Capital Recovery Fund.

Park street showing shops, road and cars

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city council and partners will be encouraging people to continue safe behaviours through our communications, including our ‘Protect Bristol’ and We Are Bristol, We Are Kind, We Are Safe campaigns.

To rebuild and strengthen the city’s reputation as a visitor, shopping and leisure destination the Where’s it to? Bristol’s high streets campaign is raising the profile of the independent traders throughout the city’s high streets and city centre. The initiative also encourages citizens to shop locally, helping to build stronger resilient independent businesses that are supported by their own communities.

To support the recovery of our high streets the council is working with the social media consultant Maybe*. The partnership provides access to a market-leading platform and training, offering all businesses free access to social media and the tools and training to reach more customers and drive sales. The platform gives businesses the opportunity to engage with each other, creating a network of connected traders that can support and promote each other across social media. The Maybe* platform also provides practical suggestions and easy to use tools allowing businesses to connect with their audience, improve their return on investment and understand how to stay ahead of their competition.

Strategic Alignments:

  • Ensure high streets reopen within the guidelines of the government’s recovery strategy. SDG: 3, 5.3
  • Promote the city as a safe destination. SDG: 11.2
  • Investment in local centres and highstreets to diversify. SDG: 11.3
  • Maximise the approach to space use and placemaking SDG: 11.3

Bristol Legible City

Bristol Legible City is a unique concept to improve people’s understanding and experience of the city through the implementation of identity, information and transportation projects. Bristol City Council’s Legible City initiative is a pioneering design programme for the city. t was the UK’s first fully integrated environmental identity, signing and information scheme and one of the most significant programmes of its kind in Europe, making use of extensive pedestrian focused mapping.

Bristol Legible City projects include direction signs, on street information panels with city and area maps, printed walking maps, visitor information identity and arts projects. These projects communicate the city consistently and effectively to visitors and residents alike.

Providing an overview of Bristol’s central area, the A3 blue walking map is seen in the hands of visitors across the city’s central neighbourhoods. The free map has proven extremely popular and is stocked at all major points of entry to the city as well as at major destinations and hotels. Over four million copies have been printed and the map continues to be in demand.

The next stage of projects will focus on how digital can be used to further unlock residents and visitors experiences of the city, highlighting the unique businesses that can be found here.

Strategic Alignments:

  • Promote the city as a safe destination. SDG: 11.2
  • Investment in local centres and highstreets to diversify. SDG: 11.3
  • Maximise the approach to space use and placemaking SDG: 11.3
From Bristol legible city Paper-mapping

Contact the team

Economic Development Officer

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